Vallejo City Manager Greg Nyhoff during Tuesday's City Council meeting.

Vallejo city manager doesn’t think city’s police use excessive force

Under pressure to hold the Vallejo Police Department accountable for shootings and allegations of misconduct, Vallejo City Manager Greg Nyhoff said Tuesday that he doesn’t think there is excessive use of force by the Vallejo Police Department.

Nyhoff told the Vallejo City Council during his regular report late in the meeting that he believes that Vallejo police officers use force “very rarely.” He cited statistics that Vallejo police respond to 65,000 calls for service per year and use force during 150 of them.

“My opinion, those just don’t seem like there’s excessive use of force or a lot of use of force in our community,” he said.

“There are people who resist,” Nyhoff said. “There are people with mental illness who you just have to use force, sometimes for their own health or well being.”

Nyhoff did not directly address any recent use of force incidents, such as the shooting of Willie McCoy, who six officers shot 55 times after he was found unconscious in his car at a Taco Bell drive-through.

A memorial for Willie McCoy at the Taco Bell drive through where he was shot and killed by Vallejo police officers. Photo by Scott Morris
A memorial for Willie McCoy at the Taco Bell drive through where he was shot and killed by Vallejo police officers in February. Photo by Scott Morris

Several of McCoy’s friends and family, as well as friends and family of other people shot by police, spoke earlier in the meeting.

Nyhoff acknowledged that a high amount of lawsuit payouts forced the city to find a new, and more expensive, liability insurance provider. He said costs had “skyrocketed.”

But, he said, a list of all claims includes payouts for trivial matters like water main breaks and people tripping and falling on cracked sidewalks.

The Police Department is a disproportionate cost to Vallejo than it is in other cities.

I reported earlier this month that Vallejo paid more per officer in civil rights lawsuits over the last six years than any of the 50 largest agencies in the country over a similar period. The amount Vallejo pays per officer exceeds other cities by thousands of dollars.

Vallejo also has the highest per capita rate of police shootings in the region and one of the highest in the state.

During a recent interview with KTVU, Nyhoff announced the city had hired a consultant to do an evaluation of the Police Department. But, he said, he didn’t expect to find many problems.

He said he hopes they “find out how can we be better; how can we preserve life on all sides.”

During the city council meeting, Nyhoff complained that his 35-minute interview with KTVU was trimmed to 35 seconds of on-air time. He said he felt like KTVU didn’t give him an opportunity to elaborate on just how little he thinks officers use force.

“Their officers do a tremendous job,” he said. “And very rarely do they need to use force.”